KEF LS50 Wireless Internal vs External DAC ??


I am finding my KEF LS50 Wireless to sound warmer, fuller, and more spacious, with better resolution of image location, when running my streamer (Audio Alchemy DMP-1/PS-5 power supply) to Audio Alchemy DDP-1 DAC/Preamp into its RCA inputs (which are then internally converted via ADC and again DAC) than I am running my streamer direct to the speakers via USB.
Given the numerous redundant conversions at play, I speculate that the ADC conversion is so much more transparent than I imagined and that the internal DAC in the KEFs is so much worse than I expected that I would recommend others use a high-quality external DAC with these speakers (even if they are to be internally re-DACed within them). 
Anyone have this experience?? Thoughts??
23bc5ae3 993f 4b9c af6d 6eaac6d8cd60transience
Hello, I'm a KEF LS50W user from Taiwan.
I have the same feeling as you.
When i connected Mytek 192 on KEF LS50W , it obviously sounds better than the internal dac.
It is really weird but quite a funny thing!
quite happy to find someone got the same feeling.

One word - jitter. Most of the benefit of a good modern DAC will be the high quality asynchronous clock and jitter rejection. Perhaps the DAC in the LS50 is not as capable as an outboard DAC - however performing A to D and then D to A on the same board within the LS50 might not be as jittery given it is all happening on the same circuit board.
Hi-Fi News apparently found the same to be true, using the Chord 2QuteHD as an external DAC. It seems there is now consensus on this issue.
With Hugo as an external DAC and run RCA into KEF LS50 wireless, it sounds more spacious and detailed.
However, there is a big problem which made me come back to use USB rather than RCA port.
When I use Hugo, the vocal is apparently not as clear as internal DAC, this is a huge difference, you need not AB test to tell the difference.
I think buy some USB isolation gear EX:Schiit wyrd and Singxer UIP-1 is the best way to make LS 50 wireless Hifiest
With an external DAC you can upgrade.  I’m happy with my LS50s ands Auralic Vega DAC since I have a lot of DSD files and the LS50 wireless can’t play them.
hello, i've used the ELAC Discovery music server connected to the KEF LS50 W and i can confirm that the RCA connection nets the best sound.
Noticeably better than when using the KEF's DAC via the Optical connection.

I can only assume that the LS50 W DAC is not comparable to outboard DACs and dedicated music servers.
I believe the analog signal on the RCA ports is run through an ADC, processed by the digital filters and then by the internal DACs. Quite possibly they will sound different but it's not because you are bypassing the internal DACs.
I too am intrigued by this question, as I am considering the LS50w’s for use with a digital front end along as with some analog sources.  Would love to hear more user experience comparing analog and digital inputs with these speakers.
After having read the reports about sound quality using the RCA inputs and an external DAC on these speakers I tried it myself and am pleasantly surprised by the results.

I am using a heavily modified Yulong DA8 DAC and definitely feel there is an improvement in detail retrieval and overall sound quality compared to using the USB input on these speakers.

I have no idea why this is the case, especially bearing in mind that the RCA analog inputs are resampled by the internal DAC of the speakers...
Any active monitor with ADC in the process will render your beautiful expensive DACs useless.  Sell your DAC and buy a better digital streamer or change to a DAC-less monitor. 
Might as well use a dsp to that allows you to color the sound to your preference before it is sent to speakers. 
.

I tested he analog RCA inputs vs the PC inputs again.

The analog RCA inputs fed by my Aries Femto streamer > Yulong D8 [highly modified] DAC sound way better than the Aries straight into the PC [USB] inputs or using the KEF app as a streamer.

It is not even close....there is so much more warmth, realism ...everything improves through the analog inputs even though I know the analog signal is resampled by the KEFs DAC .

Obviously this analog signal I am sending the KEFs is of a much higher quality then the one decoded by only the KEFs DAC.....

The ADC in the KEFs seems to be incredibly transparent and lets in any benefits from using a high end streamer and DAC

..another advantage of using the RCA inputs is that one can take full advantage of the DSD and upsampling features of an external DAC instead of being limited to 192 on the USB input...
By running analog into the ls50s, all you are doing is adding a conversion from analog to digital to the signal chain (assuming this source has a digital out). That digital signal is then sent to the same dac that the digital inputs on the Kef route to. All the kefs dac limitations are still in play. There is no native dsd benefit to be gained, no way to bypass the 192khz ceiling. 

The best explanation for these various reports are pyschoacoustics, and that you are hearing what you want to hear. This can be an extremely powerful phenomena.

For those of you unwilling to accept that, then all that is left is that whatever sonic signature the analog source has, is being captured by the analog input, converted to digital, and then preserved all the way through the signal chain to the drivers. There is nothing “gained” here, nothing added other than the sources “color”. 

These are very 

I am not a big fan of all-in-one solutions for example this speakers it's usually a compromise and I will never consider such speakers solution ,the best way is regular speakers and seperate dac and streamer unless you are in a limited budget and you are willing to compromise the sound quality.
as usual lots of answers from people that do not own the speakers, have never tried them or even listened to them...:)

itzhak1969356 posts08-13-2018 2:35am "I am not a big fan of all-in-one solutions for example this speakers it’s usually a compromise and I will never consider such speakers solution ,the best way is regular speakers and seperate dac and streamer unless you are in a limited budget and you are willing to compromise the sound quality."


Well, the LS50W sounds a little better to me than the passive LS50 with a $1500 amp. I think it’s the DSP that the wireless version is using that makes the difference.

robr45314 posts By running analog into the ls50s, all you are doing is adding a conversion from analog to digital to the signal chain (assuming this source has a digital out). That digital signal is then sent to the same dac that the digital inputs on the Kef route to. All the kefs dac limitations are still in play. There is no native dsd benefit to be gained, no way to bypass the 192khz ceiling.

The best explanation for these various reports are pyschoacoustics, and that you are hearing what you want to hear. This can be an extremely powerful phenomena.

For those of you unwilling to accept that, then all that is left is that whatever sonic signature the analog source has, is being captured by the analog input, converted to digital, and then preserved all the way through the signal chain to the drivers. There is nothing “gained” here, nothing added other than the sources “color”.


I own the LS50 and am currently demoing the LS50w. My experience is the same as some other posters in this thread, that using an external Schiit Modi Multibit through a Schiit Saga preamp into the LS50W RCA is a step up in pleasing sound versus connecting my PC directly to the LS50W using the internal dac. It sounds more lively. I was thinking of selling the Schiit gear but now I can’t because I would be compromising what sounds best to my ears.


Returning to this post after originating it, I remain convinced that the USB input of the LS50W is not as pleasing a source as their RCA inputs fed by a listener's preferred mid-range or higher DAC.
I also feel that the absence of a passive crossover (and the presence of driver-tuned bi-amplification) greatly exceeds any deleterious effects of digital resampling in the speakers when run this way, as compared to the passive LS50s run with same DAC (and no ADC>DAC conversion) and even a high-end amplifier.
To recap: streamer to DAC to LS50W exceeds streamer to LS50. Streamer to DAC to LS50W also wins hands down against streamer to DAC to pre/amp to LS50. I have made these comparisons with numerous units in the system, and these results are consistent for me. YMMV.
p.s. I run a very carefully considered system of separates now, but the LS50W remain in my eyes a screaming bargain :)
transience OP17 posts11-10-2018 5:12pmp.s. I run a very carefully considered system of separates now, but the LS50W remain in my eyes a screaming bargain :)
I’m using LS50 because it’s all I need for my 10 x 12 room. How much do you think I would need to spend to beat the LS50W for a small room? :)


bug8434
2 posts10-09-2017 12:26am
With Hugo as an external DAC and run RCA into KEF LS50 wireless, it sounds more spacious and detailed.
However, there is a big problem which made me come back to use USB rather than RCA port.
When I use Hugo, the vocal is apparently not as clear as internal DAC, this is a huge difference, you need not AB test to tell the difference.
I think buy some USB isolation gear EX:Schiit wyrd and Singxer UIP-1 is the best way to make LS 50 wireless Hifiest

I think Schiit Eitr may solve that problem as well. It’s what I’m using and I haven’t experienced the issue you describe in my LS50W vs LS50 listening tests so far.
My system is in a small room, but it’s overkill: Ryan S610, Ayre Ex-8 fully loaded (with streaming amd a ton of digital inputs), Music Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl, Amg Giro/9W2, Hana SL.

If I wanted a great system that dominated the LS50W in a small room and wanted to retain Roon and streaming, I’d go:

Silverline Minuet Grand
Pro-Ject StreamBox S2 Ultra
Pro-Ject PreBox S2 Digital
Exposure 2010S2 Power Amp

To keep it simpler you could replace ALL the electronics with the NAD C368. You could also do a PrimaLuna Prologue power amp if you want to include tubes in the system (you'd want something a touch warm to offset the prebox digital's extreme resolution). Either way, the Silverlines are sensitive enough to make that a very tempting proposition. 

transience OP
18 posts11-10-2018 7:25pmMy system is in a small room, but it’s overkill: Ryan S610, Ayre Ex-8 fully loaded (with streaming amd a ton of digital inputs), Music Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl, Amg Giro/9W2, Hana SL.

If I wanted a great system that dominated the LS50W in a small room and wanted to retain Roon and streaming, I’d go:

Silverline Minuet Grand
Pro-Ject StreamBox S2 Ultra
Pro-Ject PreBox S2 Digital
Exposure 2010S2 Power Amp

To keep it simpler you could replace ALL the electronics with the NAD C368. You could also do a PrimaLuna Prologue power amp if you want to include tubes in the system (you’d want something a touch warm to offset the prebox digital’s extreme resolution). Either way, the Silverlines are sensitive enough to make that a very tempting proposition.
I really appreciate you taking the time to provide your opinion. I’d be inclined to look into the Silverline Minuet Grand if I could exceed LS50W performance on a budget with a $900 NAD C368. I assume you have heard these speakers? Do you think the difference uptick would be subtle or fairly dramatic? How so? I listen to many different genres of music. Will the Silverline knock it out of the park with everything I want to listen to? I do love the sound I’m hearing from LS50W but I’m also concerned about reliability and that if one thing goes inside of it my whole system is unusable. Well that and the miserly 1 year warranty. If the active parts had a 5 year warranty I’d probably stick with LS50W and call it a day. Thanks for any additional guidance you can provide.
Hi Julius, happy to help. What are your digital sources? That’ll really help me answer your question. Are you streaming from a computer and/or TV, or will your stereo be more self-contained? Once I know, I can make a more informed suggestion.
Also, will you need full Roon compatibility?
Agreed! Apologies for the poor web etiquette. I think we have established consensus earlier, though, that the rca inputs on the ls50w are often preferable to the usb, even with digital sources. As such, why not just use a passive speaker, provided it has a well designed crossover and other strong performance metrics?
Sorry for veering off topic. I also 100% agree with the assessment that the RCAs on the LS50W sound notably better than the USB port. I’m streaming from a computer and also use a turntable, both going through the LS50W RCAs at the moment. I haven’t been using Roon but was thinking of trying it.
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This was my original post but for some reason I was logged in as another user.  Really weird and scary that Audiogon has such a glitch:

Why not try the new ELAC Navis and ditch the KEF LS50W altogether, since its active, can be wireless, but doesn't force one to use an onboard DAC, allowing for much more flexibility in the signal chain?
The Navis is a great option when it comes out. For now, given your sources, I'd recommend two items on audiogon: the project prebox2 dac and the exposure 2010s2 integreated with the silverlines. That would be a noticeable step up from the kefs and about the same price as an nadc368 and added mdc bluos module while even better performing.

Elac is great though: the Navis is a great choice as is the upcoming elac ddp2 to drive it, the ddp2/dpa2/ppa2 with any great monitor speaker (studio electric m4, dynaudionspecial 40, silverline minuet grand) is also a smart and flexible system!

Any of these choices would get you into a leagye if sonic reproduction above the ls50s and open up paths beyond redundant digital conversions. 
the question is how much more would one need to spend to better the LS50W?
Retail: $1000; Audiogon: probably about $500
Killer value.
Post removed 
Is it the internal DAC that is lacking or the USB conversion?

Its been my experience, with all the DACs I have owned, that the RCA S/PDIF input fed by a good quality USB to S/PDIF converter sounds significantly better than the USB input. And it also makes for no Blue Screen of Death that I found so common using DACs with USB driver software. 

It’s a shame they didn’t add RCA S/PDIF digital inputs on these. 

As posted earlier, a USB reclocker like the W4S might greatly improve the SQ of the USB input. 

I would be curious to hear the results from someone who has tried this. 
I have Dynaudio Xeo speakers and am feeding them with a Lumin D2. It's the same


lgoler Why not try the new ELAC Navis and ditch the KEF LS50W altogether, since its active, can be wireless, but doesn’t force one to use an onboard DAC, allowing for much more flexibility in the signal chain?

transience OP The Navis is a great option when it comes out.


Thanks for mentioning the Navis. Before my LS50W return period was over the Navis ARB51 was released and I directly compared them to LS50W at home and preferred the Navis. I found they had a bigger and fuller sound. In theory, I also like that it keeps my turntable signal analog and I’m not feeding my external DAC and turntable into KEFs internal DAC which can’t be bypassed. I still have another 30 days or so to decide if I will keep the Navis but I’m thinking I will. They sound fantastic.
I know this is a super late response in reference to when this was posted, but as the LS50W has internal DSP, all analog inputs get converted to digital, it is impossible to get a more accurate/cleaner signal other than using the internal DAC, maybe some external tube DAC can color the sound, but the internal DAC is used 100% of the time.